House Republican Leader Dan Kristiansen says he kept the promise he made to his party six years ago, but now it’s time for the longtime 39th District legislator to say goodbye to Olympia.

Kristiansen stepped down from his leadership role this session, and publicly announced on Tuesday, March 6, that he will not seek reelection in November.

“My family has supported me through thick and thin the whole way through,” Kristiansen tells the Monroe Monitor, “and now they want me to come home, and I want to come home.”

The 55-year-old lawmaker was first elected to office in 2002, and said he only ran because he was encouraged to do so. Before then, he had no political aspirations.

But, time and again, Kristiansen ran for reelection and won. He took 55.4 percent of the vote in the 2012 election, and in 2013 he’d considered not running again in 2015.

“My family and I had talked about it, and were kind of looking at the next chapter,” Kristiansen said, but then he was selected to be the House Republican Leader and caucus chair a week later. “I went back to the family. They all laughed about it, and said, ‘You have to take the opportunity.’”

He ran unopposed in 2015.

Kristiansen said he promised he would serve as leader for six years, and now he’s ready to reconnect with his family.

“I’ve watched my kids literally grow up while I was here,” he said, all of them now grown up, and two planning weddings.

This year’s short legislative session ended on Thursday, with a supplemental budget being one of the last loose ends to tie up.

Earlier in the session, the Legislature finally got its 2017-19 capital budget approved, which had stalled last year due to a bipartisan conflict over water rights.

The 2016 Hirst decision shifted the responsibility for permitting wells on private property from the Washington Department of Ecology to the counties. Kristiansen said this session legislators were able to fix 98 percent of the issue, hooking people back up in Snohomish County and the portion of King County he represents, while Skagit County is still working out issues with the Department of Ecology and Snohomish Tribe.

The legislator said there is money in the budget that will help the Boys and Girls Club and Sky Valley schools, as well as funding for a new turf field at Lake Tye Park.

While he’s stepping away from Olympia, Kristiansen said he still worries about increasing taxes and an enlarged budget. He said the first state budget he presided over during the 2003 legislative session was at $23 billion, and it is now approaching $50 billion.

Lawmakers learned last month that the state expected to see $1.3 billion in new revenue coming in.

“If we’re bringing in $1.3 billion in new money,” Kristiansen said, “why are we trying to raise new taxes?”

He said he’d prefer to find ways of lowering taxes in certain areas to ease the burden on Washington residents.

He also cautioned he was around for the 2008 recession, and he wants the Legislature to consider the economic cycles of the past and not take current growth for granted.

“We’re doing great — we’re in a bubble now,” he said. “At some point, it’s going to burst.”

As for Kristiansen’s economic future, if he doesn’t find something before his term expires, he’ll be unemployed, he said. He added he didn’t want to pursue anything until after the 2018 session.

“I just felt I needed to spring to the finish,” he said. “I didn’t want to be distracted by something else on the horizon.”

Kristiansen said he’ll miss the friends he’s made on both sides of the aisle in Olympia.

Former Sultan mayor Carolyn Eslick took over the 39th District House seat vacated by Rep. John Koster last August, and Sen. Keith Wagoner took over for Kirk Pearson after he took a job with the Trump administration last September.

Kristiansen said it’s unprecedented to have so much transition in such quick succession. When asked if he has a candidate he’d like to see run to fill his seat, Kristiansen said he doesn’t think he’ll get involved in finding a potential replacement.

“I know there are a number of people who have been in the wings waiting,” he said.